The Philadelphia Flyers have to be thrilled with how the first round of their 2015 NHL Draft panned out. They had the seventh and 24th overall picks in that draft, and used those picks to select Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny, respectively.
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Though both players are now young Flyers stars, the Konecny pick was more impressive. That is because Provorov was taken over future NHL superstars while Konecny was a true diamond in the rough.
A Star-Studded Start to the Draft
The 2015 NHL Draft has to be one of the best in recent history. Four future All-Stars in Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel, Mitch Marner and Noah Hanifin were taken in the top five picks. Still, the Flyers had several great options by the time they were on the clock at No. 7.
As we know, the Flyers used that pick to select Provorov. The next three players to fall off the board were Zach Werenski, Timo Meier and Mikko Rantanen. Each of these players has already had a great deal of success in their young careers.
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Werenski and Rantanen have both already appeared in an NHL All-Star Game. Meanwhile, Meier is coming off a 30-goal and 36-assist season in San Jose.
Fortunately, Provorov has also been successful, and has blossomed into perhaps the Flyers’ top defenseman.
He eats a lot of ice-time with a career average time on ice (ATOI) of 23:59. In both of the past two seasons, he averaged nearly three more minutes on ice than any other Flyer skater. In 2018-19, his 25:07 ATOI was third-highest in the NHL.
He has also led the Flyers in blocked shots in three of the four seasons of his NHL career. He even adds some production on offense with three 20-assist seasons.
Even though Provorov has more than panned out, it is hard to be impressed with the draft pick. After all, the Flyers had multiple future NHL stars to choose from at the seventh spot. There is even a strong case to be made that the Flyers should have selected either of Werenski, Meier or Rantanen instead.
Finding a Diamond in the Rough
By the time the Flyers picked again at 24th overall, future NHL All-Stars Mat Barzal, Thomas Chabot and Brock Boeser had fallen off the board. Nonetheless, Philadelphia managed to find another future All-Star in Konecny.
The pick was impressive for two reasons. The first is that, like Provorov, Konecny has become a star for the Flyers. He has gotten better in each season and was in the midst of a career year this season prior to the hiatus. Despite playing in only 66 games this season, Konecny had already tied his career-high in goals (24) and set a new career-high in assists (37). The NHL rewarded Konecny for his performance this season and sent him to his first All-Star Game.
Nonetheless, what made the Konecny pick particularly impressive was the lack of future talent selected immediately after him. Unlike what happened with the Provorov pick, there were not three future NHL stars selected after Konecny
The next three players drafted were Jack Roslovic, Noah Juulsen and Jacob Larsson. Roslovic plays on the third line for the Winnipeg Jets while Juulsen and Larsson have bounced around the AHL and NHL without much success in either league.
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Really, the only player selected after Konecny in the first round that has had success in the NHL is Anthony Beauvillier. Nonetheless, he has averaged about 15 fewer points per season than Konecny and has not been close to making an All-Star Game.
Essentially, in drafting Konecny, the Flyers found the last future NHL star of what had been a star-studded first round. Both Konecny and Provorov have turned into great players for the Flyers, but Konecny was truly the more outstanding pick.
All uncited stats came from Hockey Reference.
Covering the Flyers for THW | Lifelong Islanders fan, but promise to become a little more sympathetic to the Flyers | Also a 4X marathon-runner | UChicago ’19